Employer mentoring scheme which brings reciprocal benefits calls for 'more mentors'

Published: 26 May 2006 at 09:48

An Anglia Ruskin University awards ceremony that took place at the Central Baptist Church in Chelmsford has marked the successful conclusion of the 2005-2006 Employer Mentoring Scheme in Essex.

Joan Newton, Head of Careers, at Anglia Ruskin University’s Chelmsford campus and the University’s Vice Chancellor Professor David Tidmarsh welcomed the 70 mentor and mentee pairs to the event who had participated in this year’s programme.  

Professor Tidmarsh said:

“We are very proud of this incredibly fast-growing and responsive scheme which is now firmly embedded into the business community. Education is at is most effective when linked to employment and the real world. This scheme brings rich, reciprocal benefits to employers and students alike which is exactly what we need as a county to help to keep Essex at the forefront of new business development and change.”

During the celebratory event, the participating students and their employee mentors received certificates to acknowledge their contribution to the scheme which has seen them working together in a mentoring relationship for a period of six months. Professor Tidmarsh presented the certificates at the event which was attended by over 200 people.

Trish Gupta, Director and Group Chief Architect at Countryside Properties, said:

“Apart from having enjoyed their company, my mentees have given me a fantastic insight into the 'student experience' at Anglia Ruskin University. As a Governor, the quality of this experience is very important to me, but I wouldn't normally get the opportunity to understand it properly.”

In response, her mentees Terry White and James Walker, who are both studying architecture, were equally enthusiastic about the scheme. Terry said:

“The Employer Mentoring Scheme was a great experience. I was very fortunate to be linked with a very special mentor. I have great respect for  Trisha and found her to be an inspiration. The time I spent at Countryside  Properties, and just being around someone who has achieved so much in architecture, was of great value and surpassed my expectations of the scheme.”

Having had a similar experience James explained:

“The mentoring scheme has given me an overview of architectural procedures in the workplace, along with practical experience. As a result of the scheme my communications skills have improved.”

Employers nationally identify the lack of business awareness among graduates as being a significant barrier to progress. Addressing this criticism five years ago, Anglia Ruskin University developed its Employer Mentoring Scheme, a targeted program giving second year students an opportunity to be supported and mentored by a graduate or professional from local organisations on a one-to-one basis. 

Mentoring organisations are drawn from across a variety of fields including Legal, Financial, Housing, IT, Built Environment, HR and Marketing as well as Local Government. 

Jan Haldane, Employer Mentoring Coordinator, explains:

"Each mentor helps a student to evaluate and enhance their personal skills and commercial awareness.  The process provides many opportunities for the students to gain knowledge and experience which boosts their confidence and improves their employability."

"The mentors receive free training and the skills they utilise in mentoring benefit and expand their skills base. They also gain a greater understanding of developments in HE, and additionally attain access to motivated and enthusiastic students."

"Many trained mentors continue to return to the scheme annually but we need more volunteers from Essex to match the numbers of students who put themselves forward for the scheme."

"If anyone in the business community feels that they are interested in finding out more about the scheme they should get in contact with us."

Special guest Tony Towell, Vice President to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Eastern Region, confirmed his support of a new extension to the scheme which is designed to encourage more female students to succeed in the predominantly male dominated Built Environment and Engineering sectors including surveying, architecture, construction management and civil and other engineering courses.

"These businesses should proudly advertise and promote the fact that they are involved in this scheme. It shows the business world that they are not only forward thinking but looking outwards and caring about the larger business community. For the students it shows that they are a business worth joining."

Nationally only 29% of applicants to Built Environment courses are female and for engineering the figure is only 15%.  The University is looking to help contribute to female recruitment to these fields via the scheme.

Through the mentoring scheme, Anglia Ruskin University is able to pursue its goal of developing and sustaining links and partnerships with employers in the Essex community.

For more information about the scheme contact Anglia Ruskin University on 0845 196 4273 or email jan.haldane@anglia.ac.uk